Gionee Elife S5.5: How Slim is Really Slim?

 
Gionee Elife S5.5

Gionee Elife S5.5

Ambarin Afsar tests the photographic performance of the Gionee Elife S5.5, touted as the world’s thinnest phone.

Recently, my colleagues and I were discussing the next logical step in the evolution of cellphones. Megapixels, screen size, body size, and unusual features like a swivelling camera or one that has an optical zoom lens were the obvious answers. In a market saturated by cellphones in all shapes, sizes, colours and that offer varying features, having a unique selling point ensures that certain products get more eyeballs.

The television commercials for the Gionee Elife S5.5 promote it as not just the world’s slimmest phone, but also one that can deliver besides looking waferthin (or what passes for waferthin in terms of cellphone body size these days).

The quality of the lens is good and amount of noise reduction applied is kept in check. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

The quality of the lens is good and amount of noise reduction applied is kept in check. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

Slim is as Slim Does
Make no mistake, the Elife S5.5 is very slim, so much so that plenty of people would stop me and inquire about the phone. However, making it an extremely slim phone also causes it to overheat, something that is a problem when you’ve been obsessively editing and uploading your photos. I didn’t notice this because the phone came with an extremely good flip cover made out of what seemed like leather, something that kept the overheating off my hands. But the cover, which sticks to the back of the phone using some kind of adhesive, was also something that made it hard for me to hold the phone with both hands and shoot. If I flipped the cover back, the camera would get covered. Ideally, I wish Gionee would have thought of making a cutout on the front of the flip cover as well, or figured out some sort of design that would not cause the user inconvenience while shooting.

The Elife S5.5 produces good image quality and colours while shooting in the night. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

The Elife S5.5 produces good image quality and colours while shooting in the night. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

Octacore Power
My problem with the Elife E7 also included shutter lag and a certain amount of time taken for the burst mode to start. Either the processor is working its magic, or the autofocus of the camera has improved greatly. There is also no shutter lag. You can use the volume buttons to act as shutterrelease buttons, but if you’re using the flip cover, these buttons actually end up being tougher to access than the on-screen button.

The phone’s AF speed is fast and responsive. It helped me capture the moment while shooting on the streets. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

The phone’s AF speed is fast and responsive. It helped me capture the moment while shooting on the streets. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

Same Old Interface
While the S5.5 isn’t exactly an update of the E7, I certainly expected the interface of the camera app to either get an upgrade or be slightly different. The advanced shooting interface still needs two taps to be accessed, not including starting the camera app.

This image is a tiny crop from a much larger photo. The fact that the camera managed to retain this much of detail is appreciable. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

This image is a tiny crop from a much larger photo. The fact that the camera managed to retain this much of detail is appreciable. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

The screen seems to be a lot more sensitive than the E7’s and despite the small sliders, I did not face issues accessing controls like I did with the E7.

Conclusion
I was more than satisfied with the image quality, as the test shots accompanying this article will show. Priced at Rs. 27,199 however, it seems a steep buy when the Android market has been overthrown by the Xiaomi Mi 3 and the iPhone 5s is going to retail at Rs. 32,000. But if a sleek design is important for you, the quick autofocus/ burst shooting mode system combined with the Gionee camera interface make this phone worthwhile.

Despite the large number of pointed light sources in the frame, contrast wasn’t affected, thus showing the quality of the optics. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

Despite the large number of pointed light sources in the frame, contrast wasn’t affected, thus showing the quality of the optics. Photograph/Ambarin Afsar

AT A GLANCE
SPECIFICATIONS 13MP, Android 4.2 (upgradable to 4.4.2), Rs. 27,199, f/2.4 lens, Full HD video
at 25fps, 4.92MP front-facing camera, LED flash
WHAT WE LIKE Quick AF, no shutter lag, good amount of detail
WHAT WE DISLIKE Too slim for serious shooting, expensive
WHY BUY IT If you want a sleek phone that has a good camera, this is a good choice, but otherwise there are phones that will give better value.

FINAL RATINGS 82%
CAMERA  13MP, f/2.4, dedicated camera interface  13/15 
IMAGE QUALITY  Sharp images and good detail, great control over flare  31/35
VIDEO QUALITY Nice, smooth footage  17/20
HANDLING  Very slim, difficult to use, volume button difficult to access  8/15
SPEED & RESPONSIVENESS Fast AF, quick startup time  13/15

 

Tags: Ambarin Afsar, Cellphone Review, gionee, Gionee Elife S5.5, Gionee Elife S5.5 price India, october 2014